How Not to Upsell your Product – or How WHSmiths and Waterstones degrade their brand

Recently I bought a great book on human behaviour and how to gently influence people from Waterstones book shop, called Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (a middle initial always makes you seem more authoritative). It looks to be a cool book, but what I most remember about the encounter is the interaction with the person handling my sale.

After they took my order they asked me if I wanted to buy from a stack of books on the counter. I didn’t get the name of the book, but it had a soft, gentle, pastel cover with flowers and a stylised image of a young girl. The writer was female and the book cover evoked a feeling of walking through tall wheat with Keira Knightly, whilst bees went about their gentle work. Not the kind of book I would ever be interested in.

There is an internet marketing point in here, just hang on a minute. I’m creating a parallel narrative.

I looked at the sales person and saw the fear in her eyes. The fear that said, “If I don’t offer you this book, my management speaking-well groomed boss will sack me.”

Would Waterstones really sack a member of staff because they didn’t try to get me to buy “chicklit”?

Who knows, but you do see a dribble of humanity leave a member of staffs body each time this poor attempt at upsell happens. Which leaves a stain on the floor behind the counter.

The internet marketing point of this article is about the upsell. It is an incredibly powerful and profitable way to get sales. But the way WH Smith – who seem to think that stuffing chocolate down the gobs of the British Public is somehow going to lead us to spiritual enlightenment – employ the upsell is atrocious and leaves me lamenting the humiliation of their staff.

When you buy something online, you are in the mood, in the zone for other stuff that solves the same or similar problem that is on your mind, so if you buy an ebook on linkbuilding it makes perfect sense to upsell to a link building tool or offer link building services.

Of course, WH Smiths and Waterstones may have conducted studies that 5% of people when buying a copy of Top Gear will also buy a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate. Thus increasing profits.

But what about the 95% who don’t buy?

What if someone blogs about this fact?

What if that blogger, also tweets about it.

What if a journalist reads that blog and decides to rip off the writer and give no atributation and rewrite the article as their own, (surely journalists would never do such an unethical thing) and publish it in their widely read Sunday Paper column which they later turn into a book which ends up at WHSmith and when you try to buy it you also get offered a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate?

There is another direction I could go with this about cheapening a brand, but I have a new chicklit novel to read whilst eating a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate.

Diggs for Sale

Maybe this post should read, “Digg for sale”.

A few thoughts on what is happening on digg.

First, I’m not following the current convo regarding the latest changes at digg closely as there will be a period of flux where nothing of worth really settles. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great, geeky, soap opera and if you have the time it beats having to watch the coffee dribbles on your wall harden in the warm sun.

Most of the people I follow about the subject are the professional diggers who have made a career out of pushing stories to the top. I of course push my own stories to the top and over the years have realised how much most of the social bookmarking sites are quite easily gamed. Mostly in an ambiguous nod from the owners of the sites.

Whilst the owners of these site publicly castigate such practices, they actually need professional social bookmarkers as they provide them with quality content. If it’s an infographic it’s usually been created by professionals. Which I think reveals the extent of the operation.

So, why is this important.

Well, if you are not getting a piece of the action, then you are missing out on a big chunk of online marketing. It’s a relatively small group who control 80% of social bookmarking action. It’s really no different than getting stories in newspapers which are sympathetic to a specific brand or product.

But right now, digg is in turmoil in the sense it is not yet clear how to promote. Which is why I think it’s not worth following the story. In a few weeks it will be clear which wheels need to be greased, but right now, I’m off on holiday and hopefully when I come back it will be sorted.

However, digg only represents one entity and there are many others to promote your website at.

What Dan Raine Taught me about SEO Agencies

I was watching a Dan Raine presentation in the wee small hours of the morning. And I realised what seo agencies are about.

Or rather what they are not about.

It’s something that has been niggling me for a while and I probably haven’t raised it because a lot of my clients are seo agencies.

SEO agencies don’t do cutting edge.

I think I’ve been to all the seo conferences in the UK and you hardly ever get a presentation that is cutting edge from an agency.

Which is fine.

They are about delivering what is mainstream, stuff like buing links from newspaper websites and the like.

They are also about managing the client, which obviously is an important part of the equation.

But the client will get in the way of implementing cutting edge techniques as most are new and highly experimental and there are little or no case studies around.

Also, most clients have not the time nor the industry knowledge to be taught about these cutting edge techniques, let alone being sold them and so the seo agency falls back on the tried and tested.

And there is nothing wrong with the tried and tested.

This is not a criticism of seo agencies, it’s merely a realisation of their place in the Internet Marketing food chain.

A lot of businesses need the tried and tested and have deep pockets to pay for it.

But people like Dan Raine are a couple of jumps ahead on the evolutionary scale of Internet Marketing.

If you are in the industry, when he speaks, you should listen.

But you probably wont.

You don’t have time.

What you do right now works for you.

You have to tweet about your new iPhone 4 (and how best to hold it)

But I will be listening and applying a few of his cutting edge techniques.

They certainly work for linkbaiting.

Why Am I Bad at SEO?

I have to confess, I am really bad at optimising my web pages. And the reason is this,

“It’s not knowledge that holds most people back in SEO, it’s Implementation”.

… which was something I tweeted a couple of hours ago whilst reading an seo forum. I have to say, link builder, Debra Mastaler and Aaron Wall really get the grey matter working.

The reason I say I am bad is that the optimisation of my pages do not match the knowledge I have in my head. Although the knowledge is of value, it’s only realised when implemented.

The reason it’s not implemented is because I can generally get away with it as I focus primarily on building exceptional content and getting links to it than optimising web pages. It works so well that the optimisation part simply gets pushed aside.

Not to say that I don’t have the urge once in a while. In the past few weeks I have looked at clients seo structure and relised a tweak here and a tweak there and their traffic will triple. But I kept quiet because creating content about 10 Kittens on Crack go on Holiday to Amsterdam is far more interesting that trawling keyword analysis and building hub pages with a little bit of linkable content and then arguing with the IT dept of said client.

You know how it is.

Something has to give, you can’t do everything.

So the answer to the question, why am I bad at SEO? It’s because I am good at something else.

Why is this important to you?
It’s very important to know what you are good at, what you are passionate about and not get sidetracked into being something you are not.

If it’s working for you, ignore the critics and just keep on with it.

SEO Keyword Research using Google Insight

Update: I didn’t think to check that the information presented was going to be live and so what I talk about in the post does not now reflect the data. DOH! Obviously I should have taken a screen shot and done it that way. But the points are still valid, it’s just the data set has changed on me.

Interesting to see seomoz as a breakout keyword. I would have thought they were riding too high to breakout, possibly recent press has sent a new bunch of people to search

Dannyseo

At first I thought, Danny Sullivan but no. This guy is called Danny Seo and is a Environmental lifestyle expert, sigh! He’s the kind of guy that makes me want to go out and burn tires in my garden.
Looks like he does a lot of TV and print, hence the boost in the search data. He also seems to smile a lot, maybe the new algo has a happy clappy quotient.

SEO Woo

This is interesting as I have chosen the search to be USA centric, this is a Korean of some sort. What I am realising here is “Seo” must be a Korean name and so when someone of that name gets famous they start ranking for “seo”

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Guess what, Seo Hyun is another female star of some sort and so is Hee Kyung Seo.

A quick search in US Google of SEO, only reveals our friends in the search optimization industry and no Korean stars, which is not surprising. But what we have uncovered here is a little nugget of information. How valuable is that nugget? Don’t know, but one semantic occurance, that of a Korean name popped up three times in the break out data.

What I find with this kind of knowledge, is that there is someone, somwhere who will put this to use to their advantage. 99% of people will probably be “so what”? But then 99% of people fail. It’s those who can take a piece of information and meld it to their own use, whilst no one else knows about it.

Lets turn our attention to top searches related to SEO

First thing you notice is “google seo”, twice the amount of searches than the second in the list. More searches than “how to seo” or even “seo website”.

What this tells me is like it or loathe it, Google is the web. Lets not get into that right now. Using “google” as a keyword seems an obvious choice for an seo site to optimise for. I would never use “google” as a keyword search term when loooking for info, but I am neck deep in search knowledge and so may not reflect the ordinary person.

This is an important point. When trying to figure out what ordinary people are searching for, try to search like an ordinary person.

Using a brand in your long tail is a no brainer, using the brand of Google within keyword phrases with the root of “seo” is essential.

Some may like to point out that the optimisation for this site is terrible, and it’s true, I’ve never bothered with SERPS traffic, I get my conversions in other ways, but that’s another story. I just wanted you to know why I am suggesting it but not bothering myself.

If you are in the SEO business and aggresively targetting the keyword you probably already know all this.

WordPress pops up two times, once by itself. What’s that about? Why would google say that someone searching for “wordpress” is an seo related search? Possibly Google is factoring in other metrics, such as where the searcher came from, what are they doing, what were their previous searches and so on.

The important thing is to realise that “wordpress” is within the semantic gaze of seo.

All interesting stuff, it’s fascinating what you can learn from mining data and seeing where it leads. Hope this has been educational, it certainly has for me.